Covid-19 related panic buying is putting pressure on Central Otago and Wanaka supermarkets as some owners urge calm and others choose to remain quiet on the matter.

Until now in the pandemic shoppers in the region had remained relatively calm; supermarkets reported moderate increases in sales of items such as toilet paper, paracetamol, handwash and hand sanitiser.

That all changed when a Danish woman tested positive for the virus in Queenstown at the weekend.

The confirmation of the disease nearby meant buying had ramped up a gear.

In Alexandra the situation at the town’s only large-scale supermarket, New World in Centennial Ave, was described as a “bit chaotic” by one shopper who noted items such as bread and toilet paper running low or sold out and a higher than usual number of people in the store.

A man said panic buying this week had been exacerbated by people from Queenstown who “cleaned out Cromwell before moving on to Alexandra”.

Manager Shane Ryan declined to comment on the situation to The News.

However, Alexandra New World posted on social media on Tuesday night that its staff were working “super hard” to keep its shelves stocked.

“Business is as usual with stock arriving daily, so please shop as you usually would and we will reduce the chance of running out of products.”

The post also urged shoppers to be respectful of staff and other customers.

Anyone unwell was asked not to come in.

A run on some items was noted at the Four Square supermarkets in Alexandra and Clyde but their respective owners declined to comment, referring questions to the Foodstuffs co-operative.

Cromwell New World owner Phil Ryan urged calm.

“People need to keep calm and take a breath. We’ll be fine.”

He said people had gone a bit “over the top” at the supermarket in Iles St, and that was putting some pressure on supplies.

However, he said there was no need for that because he was “confident in the supply chain”.

“We’re confident we’ll get through this.”

At Fresh Choice Cromwell, also in Iles St, owner Sue Clark was less forthcoming.

“I really have no comment to make on that.”

At Wanaka’s New World Three Parks in Sir Tim Wallace Dr, owner Dave Bartley also urged shoppers to be reasonable.

It was difficult to accurately measure numbers of customers because of the extra demand that had been caused by people attending the Wanaka A&P Show, he said.

There had been high demand on toilet paper, canned goods, paper towels and flour.

“I guess there’s people planning on baking something.”

Stocks were being replenished with “big orders” almost daily, he said.

Across town at Wanaka New World in Dunmore St, owner Justin Purcell could not be contacted as The News went to print.

The Wanaka A&P Show was the last large-scale event to be held in Otago before more stringent measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 were implemented by the Government.

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